Role of the capsulo-ligamentous structures in rotation and combined flexion-rotation of the lumbar spine

J Spinal Disord. 1992 Mar;5(1):1-7. doi: 10.1097/00002517-199203000-00001.


We carried out experiments on whole cadaveric lumbar spines in order to determine the role that each of the capsulo-ligamentous structures play in axial rotation in the neutral position and in the flexed position. Eight specimens were first tested intact, then after division of all the apophyseal joint capsules between L1 and the sacrum. Another five specimens were also first tested intact, then after division of the supra- and interspinous ligaments and yellow ligament, and finally after cutting the posterior longitudinal ligament and posterior annulus at each level as well. The results show that there is considerable variation in the axial rotation of the lumbar vertebrae within the same spine and across different spines. The apophyseal joint capsules limit rotation both in neutral and flexed positions. In flexion, the amplitude of rotation in the lumbar spine is reduced. Of the capsulo-ligamentous structures, it is the posterior annulus and the posterior longitudinal ligament that seem to play the more important role in limiting axial rotation while the spine is flexed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Lumbosacral Region / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion
  • Rotation
  • Torsion Abnormality